Join Date: May 2002
Thanked 54 Times in 52 Posts
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I used to crew for an old friend on his Etchel, and he always sailed with no motor. He carried an oar for those occasions when there was not a breath of air.
Also, he taught me to not use the jib when returning to his slip in light air, because, if you had a gust of wind as you were entering the slip, you couldn't smother the jib quickly or fully enough, and it propelled the boat into the dock. He used the mainsail, but he lowered it until most of it was flaked down on the boom. Only a small triangle of the mainsail was raised above the boom.
If we were entering the slip downwind, we only had enough sail area exposed to add slightly to the effect of the wind on the bare hull and pole. That was enough to provide steerageway and control, but not so much that it would accelerate significantly if there was a sudden gust, and it could be smothered fairly easily.
If we were entering the slip to windward, the mainsail, lowered in that manner, allowed us to drive to windward, while providing us enormous control in the event of a sudden gust. If you're trying to sail to windward with a jib, it's much more difficult to limit boatspeed in a sudden gust, because, to a large extent, the whole sail area of the jib is either trimmed and driving the boat too fast, or it's luffed and providing no drive at all. It's like driving a car that only has two speeds - either full idle, or pedal to the metal.